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had a historical precedent did nothing to make it any more palatable.

Ian gritted his teeth. Here they were in the middle of the biggest South

African news event in recent memory, and he’d been shunted off to the sidelines without so much as a thank you Christ, talk about a career on the skids! He’d slipped off into a black hole without even realizing it.

“Oh, my God…” Emily’s horrified whisper brought him back to the present.

Vorster was still on-screen, rattling off a list of those he’d named to a “temporary” Government of National Salvation. Cronje, de Wet, Hertzog,

Klopper, Malherbe, Maritz, Pienaar, Smit, and van der Heijden. Ian ran through the list in his mind. Some were names he didn’t recognize, but those he did recognize belonged to notorious diehards. All were

Afrikaners. Clearly, Vorster didn’t intend to give the Englishdescended

South Africans and other Uitlanders any share in government. Wait a minute … van der Heijden?

He looked sharply at Emily.

Stricken, she stared sightlessly into the screen and then, slowly, turned her eyes toward him. She nodded.

“My father, yes. “

Ian pursed his lips in a soundless whistle. He’d known that Emily’s father was some kind of government bureaucrat. But he’d always imagined someone more suited to handling crop insurance or international trade figures-not the kind of man who’d apparently just taken the number two spot in South Africa’s security forces.

For an instant, just an instant, he found himself thinking of Emily not as a beautiful and intelligent woman who loved him, but as a possible information source-as a conduit leading straight into the heart of South

Africa’s new government. Then he saw the sadness in her eyes and realized that was just what she feared. She was afraid of what her father’s newfound power would do to what they had together.

Wordlessly, Ian reached out and took her in his arms, holding her closely against his chest. One hand stroked her hair and the back of her neck.

But he found his eyes straying back to the tall, grim-faced man still filling the airwaves with words and phrases that promised vengeance and rekindled racial hatred.

JUNE 30-STATE SECURITY COUNCIL CHAMBER,

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA

Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, lay at peace beneath a cloudless blue sky. Though several newly built steel-and-glass office buildings dotted its skyline, Pretoria still seemed more a quiet, nineteenth-century university town than the prosperous, bustling governmental center of a twentiethcentury state. Rows of jacaranda trees shading wide streets and an array of formal, flower-filled gardens helped maintain the illusion.

On a low hill overlooking the central city, the Union Buildings-two sprawling, three-story structures connected by a semicircular colonnade-sat surrounded by their own carefully manicured gardens.

Thousands of bureaucrats, some petty, others powerful, occupied the two mirror-image buildings. From their offices emerged the constant stream of directives, reports, regulations, and queries required to govern the sovereign Republic of South Africa.

On the surface, nothing much had changed. The various ministries and departments functioned according to time tested procedures-still carrying out the moderate policies of men whose bodies lay hundreds of miles away in a temporary morgue alongside the Cape Town railway. But all who worked in the Union Buildings knew those policies were as dead as the men who’d formulated them.

South Africa now had a more ruthless set of masters.

To defeat any attempts at electronic eavesdropping, the members of the new State Security Council met in a small, windowless room buried deep inside the Union Buildings complex. The fifteen men now in charge of their country’s foreign policy apparatus, military services, and security forces sat quietly around a large rectangular table. All of them

owed their appointments to one man, Karl Vorster, and all were acutely aware that their futures depended on continued obedience to his will.

Now they waited for an indication of just what that will might be.

Vorster studied the map laid out by his deputy minister of law and order.

Red circles outlined South Africa’s most troublesome black townships. Other colors designated varying degrees of past resistance to Pretoria’s policies.

“The circles dotting the map were surrounded by abstract symbols-symbols that stood for the sixty thousand active-duty and reserve police officers awaiting his orders.

He nodded vigorously.

“Magtig, Marius. This plan is just what we need. Show the kaffirs who’s boss right from the start and save a lot of trouble later, eh?”

Marius van der Hejjden flushed with pleasure at Vorster’s praise.

“Yes, Mr.

President. A thorough sweep through the townships should flush out the worst rabble-rousers and malcontents. Once they’re in the camps, we’ll have a much easier time keeping order.”

Vorster abandoned his contemplation of the map and looked up at the other members of his Security Council.

“Any comments?”

One by one, they shook their heads.

Every member of Vorster’s handpicked government saw the immediate security problem they faced. Years of misguided pampering by the dead Haymans and his liberal cronies had allowed the blacks to build up a network of their own leaders and organizations. Organizations around which violent opposition to a strengthened apartheid system could coalesce. And that was intolerable. The black anti apartheid movements would have to be crushed and crushed quickly.

What van der Heijden proposed was simple, straightforward, and bloody.

Teams of armed police troops backed by armored cars would descend on the most radical townships en masse-searching house to house for known agitators. Anyone resisting arrest would be shot. Anyone obstructing the police in the lawful performance of their duties would be shot. And anyone who tried to flee the closing police net would be shot. Those who escaped death would find themselves penned up in isolated labor camps, unable to spread their gospel of poisonous dissent.

Vorster bent down and signed the top page of the thick sheaf of arrest orders with a quick flourish.

“Your plan is approved, Marius. I expect immediate action.”

“At once, Mr. President.”

From his seat next to Vorster, Erik Muller watched with ill-disguised contempt as the beefy, barrel-chested man hurriedly gathered his papers and maps and rushed from the room. Van der Heijden really wasn’t anything more than a typical, block headed provincial policeman. The man’s socalled plan relied entirely on the application of brute force and overwhelming firepower to gut any internal resistance to the new regime. And where was the subtlety or gamesmanship in that?

He would have preferred a more surgical approach involving carefully selected arrests, assassinations, and intimidation. Muller shrugged mentally. Van der Heijden’s Operation Cleansing Fire appealed to the new president’s bias for direct action. Besides, the Transvaaler was just the kind of bluff, hearty kerel, or good fellow, that Vorster liked. So be it. Let the new deputy minister win this opening round. Muller would pour his energies into maintaining his authority over foreign intelligence-gathering and special operations.

Those were the next items on the State Security Council’s agenda. Muller grew conscious of Vorster’s scrutiny.

“Director Muller is here to bring us up-to-date on activities designed to punish the nearest kaffir-ruled states for aiding our enemies. Isn’t that right, Erik?”

“Yes, Minis… Mr. President.” Muller caught himself in time. Although he’d occupied the chief executive’s office for just two days, Vorster had already shown himself a stickler for titles. Muller beckoned a waiting aide over and watched through slitted eyes as the man unrolled a large-scale map of southern Africa.

     

 

2011 - 2018